By Krassen Nikolov
Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki (from the nationalist VMRO party, sitting with the European Conservatives and Reformists Group) defended on Saturday (31 August) the return of the death penalty.
Thus he opened for a while the debate on this topic in Bulgaria. Dzhambazki’s statement was provoked by two very serious crimes with children victims in the village of Sotirya (near the southern town of Sliven) – a murder and a rape attempt. His party – the nationalist VMRO – immediately jumped on the issue because the village has a large Roma community and reportedly Roma people committed these crimes. VMRO uses any occasion for anti-Roma rhetoric.
“My personal opinion is that people who do such things (murders and rapes) deserve only death,” Dzhambazki told national Darik radio. “The society needs extreme measures for solving the Gypsy issue,” added Dzhambazki, who is a second-term MEP.
The death penalty is incompatible with EU membership and the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights. In Europe, the death penalty is only practiced in Belarus. Even in Russia, a moratorium on the death penalty was imposed in 1996.
The European Commission and the European Parliament have repeatedly pleaded against the death penalty worldwide.
However, VMRO is not a firm supporter of the right to life at all cost. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Krasimir Karakachanov, who is the VMRO leader, also supported the death penalty.
“There should be death penalty, especially for serious crimes such as the murder of elderly people and children,” Karakachanov commented on Sunday. Nevertheless he reminded that such an amendment in Bulgarian legislation is impossible “at this stage”.
“As long as Bulgaria is an EU member and the EU is against the death penalty, this cannot happen. I am a supporter of the death penalty, especially when it comes to rape and murder of children or rape and murder of elderly people. But let’s be realistic – this cannot be passed in the Bulgarian Parliament. The Bulgarian Parliament is very about this issue,” Karachanov said.
The death penalty was introduced in Bulgaria in 1896. In July 1990, the parliament imposed a moratorium on the death penalty. It was abolished by the Bulgarian Penal Code in 1998. Just before that, in his capacity of MP, Karakachanov had submitted a proposal to lift the moratorium on death penalty for child murder.
In 2017 142 countries in the world have abolished the death penalty by law or practice. 56 countries still have it, according to European Parliament data.
In 2017, nearly 1,000 executions were reported in 23 countries, and 20,000 sentenced to death are awaiting execution. 84% of 2017 executions are in four countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan. This data is incomplete as China does not provide official information. It is believed that there are several thousands of executions per year there.